Unity, the company behind the cross-platform game engine of the same name, has announced that it has reached a merger agreement with IronSource. (opens in a new tab). “If you’re not familiar with ironSource,” reads Unity’s statement, “they bring a proven track record of helping makers focus on what makers do best – bringing great apps and user experiences to life. – while enabling business expansion in the app economy.”
IronSource is also well known for another reason. He developed InstallCore, a wrapper for bundling software installations. If you searched for a popular program and saw a link to a third-party site with a URL that ends in something like “downloadb.net” or “hdownload.net”, it may be InstallCore. If you make the mistake of downloading it, you’ll be offered the kind of extras with generic names like RegClean Pro and DriverSupport that an unsuspecting user might click OK, that’s how you end up with a full PC. of toolbars and junk mail that’s as slow as your parents’. InstallCore was quite obnoxious Windows Defender will stop it working (opens in a new tab)and Malwarebytes (opens in a new tab) too.
As documented by Microsoft Chief Economist for Web Experience, Strategy and Policy, Ben Edelman (opens in a new tab), InstallCore was also behind a fake installer for a Windows version of Snapchat, a program that was only ever available on mobile. It would install the BlueStacks Android emulator instead, along with the usual adware injection.
Game developers who use Unity are less than thrilled with the merger. Andreia Gaita (opens in a new tab), who runs game porting studio Spoiled Cat, tweeted: “A game engine is the thing you use to build and distribute games to devices. Vendors of these devices, like Apple, need to trust that the engine isn’t bundling bad stuff. with the game. Merging with a company that specializes in malware bundling is… WTF”. Or as Maddy Thorson (opens in a new tab) of Celeste fame summed it up succinctly, “Man, fuck Unity.”
In 2015, IronSource merged with Supersonic (opens in a new tab)developer of an in-app shopping platform, and moved from InstallCore to in-game ads. In early 2022, it acquired Tapjoy (opens in a new tab), another specialist in mobile advertising and monetization applications. This is the area in which Unity is looking to expand its participation (opens in a new tab)as it plans “to leverage the company’s tools, platform, technology and talent to form an end-to-end platform that makes it easier for creators to create, publish, run, monetize and grow live games and [real-time 3D] content transparently.”
Unity already has Unity Ads, “our monetization solution for mobile games that allows game developers to monetize their entire player base”, but obviously there are benefits to combining this with IronSource: “The complementary data and product capabilities of Unity and ironSource will give creators access to better funding for user acquisition (UA) and monetization to successfully scale their games and accelerate their performance. economic.”
The Wall Street Journal (opens in a new tab) reports Unity agreed to pay $4.4 billion for IronSource. It’s the latest in a series of partnerships and acquisitions for Unity that includes the purchase of VFX studio Weta Digital for $1.6 billion. And yet, just two weeks ago, it laid off hundreds of employees to, as a Unity spokesperson told us, “realign some of our resources.”